Your employees have a firsthand knowledge of your company, since they’re in the environment every day. If your employees are happy, your clients will be as well.
That’s the idea behind social selling that utilizes employee advocacy. For a while, employee advocacy as a marketing tool was novel, but now people are starting to catch on. There are a number of reasons for that. Audiences are more and more skeptical online. They want to engage with real humans—not advertisements. That’s where organic advocacy comes in.
The rest of this post is based on our interview with Marylin Montoya, Director of Marketing at Sociabble. As an expert in employee advocacy programs, Marylin broke down how to implement one.
How to Create an Employee Advocacy Program
A lot of companies do this already in some form. All those companies that make the lists about greatest places to work embody these elements of employee advocacy. Here are four ways you can create your own.
1) Revisit your social media policy
Have you communicated your policy openly? What are the rules? What can employees say and not say? How far can they speak on behalf of the company on social media?
Recognize, though, that regardless of the rules employees are going to post what they want anyway—statistics back that up. So it’s good to address it with a policy and training.
2) Enable your employees
Once employees understand more or less where you stand as a company on social media policies, the next step is to enable them to comply. This is where tools/content come in, and you definitely want to let employees participate in the process of choosing tools and creating content.
3) Make sure that management is onboard
If you want your company to embody the initiative, your management has to lead the way.
4) Reward the activity
Make rewards for advocacy fun and light—not required or forced. If they want to participate, they should get something out of it, though. After that, there are a lot of details that go into how to roll the advocacy program out, but it all starts with these four steps. They prep employees to embrace and thrive in such a program.
Is Employee Advocacy Effective Only in B2B or in Retail as Well?
Marylin says it’s effective for both.
For B2C companies, lots of employees are out there in the field, and this is an interesting way to connect people in the field to a communication that involves social media.
Take somebody working at a sports gear store who is passionate about a particular sport. Imagine combining that product and their passion with a social media amplification of the company.
That can be extremely effective, while still lining up with the employee’s own passions—a win-win.
How do you incentivize employees to actually participate in social advocacy?
It depends. When you’re talking about social selling, especially in B2B, the utility is obvious: the reward for salespeople is filling their quota and any associated rewards. Social media is a prospecting tool for them.
In general, rewards can be monetary—sometimes companies can afford that—or not. The more important thing is the attitude you create towards the advocacy.
Companies can give fun, silly, and simple rewards that are non-monetary and that motivate as well, because they recognize someone in the community. You can get creative.
For example, Sociabble had a client who gave the employee who shared the most content the closest parking spot to their door. You can think of a lot of different ways to apply incentives.
What Sociabble has found is that to have optimal engagement from employees, you have to have a variety of content—and not just branded content either. Nobody wants to constantly spam their network with their company’s own content.
What does your content look like? Do you have third-party content? Do you put out industry-related content?
The reality is, you need to provide utility to your employees and the end user. Therefore, you must have a well-rounded view of your content distribution.
More on that reluctance to share branded content…
Again, no one wants to spam their network, but what types of policies can you put in place to prevent it?
Here are a couple of ideas:
1) Limit the amount of sharing employees can do a day. They will only get recognized for a certain number of shares per time period. This way people will know if they go beyond what is required, they may not get anything out of it.
2) Limit sharing altogether. Offer a limited choice of content to share. For example, let them choose five pieces of content out of a number of others they’d like to share today or this week.
There are all types of employees as well, some much more digitally involved than others. Depending on where they fall on the spectrum, they’ll have different ways of interacting online.
Some are new to social media; they may be excited but not post a lot. Others are digital natives and are more careful about how they share.
A lot of it’s common sense at the end of the day. These are their personal networks, and they will want to respond and share accordingly.
Social Selling: A Human Activity
A while back, Sociabble had interested parties who wanted to pre-package their social messaging, but Sociabble refused to offer it. They believe it’s important for employees to understand what they’re sharing and personalize it themselves.
Of course, compliance is an important point. But that’s where training comes in. Employees need to know what’s at stake, but at the same time they need to be able to tell their personal stories.
You want the communication to be as real as possible. After all, people want to talk to other people; they don’t want to talk to pre-packaged messages.
People want to talk to other people; they don’t want to talk to pre-packaged messages. <Click to Tweet>
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